< Fieldwork

AdriaS Case study 5: Cape Plavac/Zlarin

Hull remains of a large 1st c. AD merchantman with various cargo

Period: Classical Antiquity

Leading institution(s): University of Zadar,

Based on the existing data, we can conclude that the ship that sunk near cape Plavac is the largest Roman Early Imperial ship in Croatian waters. A rich but devastated cargo was partly recovered. The shipwreck was not systematically excavated, and the numerals became visible only during the conservation process, when it was too late to reconstruct their original position. Despite that, the unpublished timbers offer an opportunity to engage more closely with the ways of thinking of ancient shipbuilders to better understand their actions.

Roman numerals on ships’ frames are attested on shipwrecks and in the historical records from the fifteenth century onwards, and are used to interpret the technical knowledge which formed the basis of the principles and methods of design and construction of the structural elements of the hull's shape. For Classical Antiquity the written evidence is missing, and we have to rely solely on the isolated archaeological record.